Abortion and the Black Woman

Tamara* grew up in a loving home with two parents. People who knew her would have said she was an overachiever, one of those “Most Likely to Succeed” types. She was one of the many African Americans in her school to receive scholarships to attend college. Then she met a man—an older man who stole her heart and her virginity.

Pregnant at 18, she made the choice to have an abortion. Unfortunately, Tamara remained in sin, and by the time she was in her mid-20s, had four more abortions. Now 30 years old with two kids, Tamara lives with an ache in her heart at the unnecessary loss of the other children by her choice to abort them.

“Having children made me realize the ultimate value of life beyond my selfish motivations of what I felt life was about,” Tamara told me. “After having my first child I realized or began to feel the other children I once had the opportunity to have were still my children. I have dealt with a greater sense of regret and conviction after having children. I have realized the gift it is to be chosen by God to nurture and raise the seeds he plants, his children, whether they were conceived by sin and lust or by love.”

She made the decisions to abort to “save a relationship [with her boyfriend] for four of them and the fifth due to finances and fear.” Tamara now believes that abortion is wrong. She shared through tears:

“It is a weird thing, abortion. It is wrong in the sense that someone would even have the idea to create such a procedure to begin with. It is wrong to think that someone wouldn’t take responsibility for their actions. It is wrong that young men don’t understand the effect it has on the young woman or girl who lies in the cold, cold, cold room with a group of other woman to ultimately remove a child as if it is a parasite. It’s heavy.”

Tamara is now on a journey to understand God’s forgiveness of sins through Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross.

“I repeatedly decided to have abortions because I wasn’t serving the good will of my Lord, I was blindly living in the world and serving people and relationships, dreams that weren’t ever fully met anyway due to conviction and self doubt. I still have a looming feeling of guilt from time to time and am still on a journey to understand God’s love for me so that I understand Christ’s sacrifice for these sins I have committed.”

Abortion Epidemic

Tamara is not alone. Thousands of women each week choose to take the life of their unborn child. Abortion is an epidemic among African American females. According to statistics publicized by Care Net, the mother organization of more than 1,100 pregnancy centers, non-Hispanic black women account for 30 percent of all abortions in the United States, even though African Americans compose only a little more than 12 percent of the population. Overall, 43 percent of pregnancies among black women end in abortion.

The Rev. Dean Nelson has spent the last 20 years serving in black communities and historically black colleges and universities. He has spent the past two years working as the vice president of underserved outreach for Care Net. He offers some explanation and insight into the abortion rate among African American women in this brief interview.  

So what can be done?

We can have policies at the state and federal level that can affirm the nuclear family. This is being done in Virginia through their state social services and organizations like the Fatherhood Initiative. I believe it is important that the church and family assume its proper role in affirming sexual fidelity in early years. Studies show that when those in the black community understand the role of pregnancy centers and the history of Planned Parenthood they overwhelmingly support pregnancy centers as a positive resource in their communities.

If a church is predominantly white or in a suburban area but has a desire to assist, how would you direct them?

They should encourage and help suburban pregnancy centers to build relationships with respected urban churches that share the value of life to establish new pregnancy centers in communities where abortion rates are higher. The key is collaborative effort. The respected urban churches have the community relationship, the suburban centers have the training and expertise, and suburban churches have the values, commitment, and resources to assist.

I have spoken to a woman who said she was “forced” to have abortions by her boyfriend, who didn’t want to support her. How do we reach the men? The burden and consequence of abortion seems to fall on the woman.

This is not uncommon; however, there seems to be a growing number of men who want to keep the children they conceive, but they often feel they have little say because the mother as the carrier of the child will make the final decision. That being said, some Care Net centers in conjunction with the National Fatherhood Initiative have launched “Fatherhood Programs” in urban areas such as Dallas and Atlanta.

* * * * *

Care Net’s mission is that lives would be transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, and every woman would choose life for herself and her unborn child. Last year, Care Net’s affiliated pregnancy centers served more than 400,000 women, offering them free or low-cost medical services such as ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, STD tests, and counseling services. For more information about Care Net and its urban initiatives visit http://careneturban.org/.

No Sin Too Great

If you are among the thousands of women who have chosen to abort your child, I want to share God’s grace with you. John Piper has helpfully and powerfully addressed the topic of race and abortion. Hear this word for you:

And lest anyone think that you are simply too sinful—that there have been too many sins for too long—listen to the way the great sinner, the apostle Paul, speaks to you—directly to you. This is 1 Timothy 1:15-16: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” In other words, if God can save me, the foremost (he was a murdering Christian-hater), then he can save anyone who comes to him. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

There is forgiveness in Christ. If you are convicted of your sin, confess it and ask God to forgive you. Then walk in that forgiveness in the light (Ephesians 5:8-11) and speak with a pastor or Christian counselor to assist you further.

* * * * *

*Tamara is not the interviewee’s real name. Her first and last name has been concealed to protect the identity of her children and the men involved in the circumstances above.

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  • Jana Carpenter

    This is probably THE most common cause of death in America, particularly for Black Americans.
    How can we help the voting public understand that this election has a huge cultural impact, especially regarding the social issues like abortion. No one has the right to kill innocent human beings.

  • RLynn

    I appreciate this article, but yet again, there seems to be myopia about Black women,pregnancy and abortions. I am afraid that few White Christians have the credibility to be acceptable to Black women in pregnancy crisis centers–Black Churces need to very invovled in this–but then, there is also a credibility gap when so many male leaders in Black Churches are involved in sexual sin. Also, I have yet to see an article on Christian websites about the fact that it is Asian American women of a certain age (younger) have more proportionally more abortions than any other racial/ethnic group.

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  • mel

    I don’t think there is any convincing them. Even the Christian black women that I know see conservatives as their enemy especially in this area.
    Maybe someone can explain the liberal thinking of any Christian. Timothy Keller says that it is possible to be a believer and see different causes in the bible. So I don’t assume someone is not a real believer just because they see politics in a liberal bent. But I confess that I don’t understand it and I struggle to even converse on the subject. It is basically that they just refuse to see it as a life and pregnancy is just a way to oppress women. I have no hope in this area.

    • Toni

      I am a black conservative reformed woman who has had an abortion in the past. God saved my soul just like any other true believer and showed me my many sins and how my entire life was an abomination to him. Any chance that I can I share my abortion story to help other women especially black women to see God’s forgiveness or to not buy into the lies of abortion. You are right that you can convince people because it’s the holy Spirits job to do that. I know it can look hopeless but I try to focus on what is unseen and I believe the gospel is powerful enough to open blind eyes because they opened mine.

      • mel

        Thank you and you are right it is the Holy Spirit’s job. With immature Christians I think I understand it as a growing thing because I went from pro-choice limited to just seeing it as life regardless of the circumstances. So I know that I grew. I guess what is confusing is when someone appears mature but still hangs on to this. Probably the problem is me seeing it as a bigger deal than my current sins that I have yet to have my eyes opened to. I need to remember that and just keep my eyes on myself.

        • Earl

          You also have to understand the way kids are brainwashed to accept abortion. It starts young, and they are brainwashed by their most trusted authorities (parents, teachers, politicians, etc.)

  • amy

    @ Mel: it does seem hopeless to think of changing pro-choicers as a whole, but we may be able to have an effect on an individual we may come across. That is how change happens–one person at a time. “Tamara” would have called herself pro-choice at one time and somehow someone reached her and God opened her eyes to see the value of a life. Let’s pray for opportunities to love these individuals since each one is so very precious!

    Great article, Trillia!

  • http://almostreadytogoamish.blogspot.com/ Neo

    One of the curious things about this topic, particularly in the “what can be done” section, is that the solution is more or less government reform, or building more pregnancy centers, etc, and not a peep about ADOPTION.

    Wonder why there isn’t more of an open-armed “let us adopt your child” from comfortable, 2-child-and-surgically-done-having-kids white Christian america? Or is this issue just one of those shake-the-head, cluck one’s tongue and shrug at “how bad the problem is” for those “other” people “over there”?

    Seriously TGC – why is inter-racial adoption not even mentioned here, or encouraged, or ever preached from the pulpit?

  • mel

    I’m sorry I didn’t mean to imply that you don’t write on the subject.

    My point is that it really doesn’t impact the abortion scenario if you do or don’t.

    When I was a pregnant teen I had no doubt that there were probably people that would want to adopt my baby and we didn’t even have internet back then. Adoption wouldn’t have been an option for me because the same boyfriend that wanted me to have an abortion wouldn’t have signed off on it.

  • eba

    Doy gracias al Señor por tener la oportunidad de conocer esta pagina y poder ver información sobre las personas de este mundo y el cristianismo.
    El tema del aborto fue un tema muy fuerte y interesante desde que era muy joven, Aunque hasta este tiempo no he tenido la oportunidad de compartir sobre este tema con alguien cercano. He conocido algunos casos pero no conocia estos casos y le agradesco al Señor por el poder saber y poder orar. Y doy gracias al Señor por el poder ver mas sobre este tema y saber que hay muchos hermanos cristianos trabajando en ayuda para muchas mujeres e niños. Le doy gracias al Señor por estas organiciaciones y por el poder orar por las personas y cuando alguien acude en ayuda a mi o en la Iglesia pueda estar preparada para compartir sobre nuestro Señor JesusCristo. El Señor los cuide y bendiga .

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  • http://brethrensites.com/friendsofd chinenye ndefo

    This becomes a huge responsibility to us as mothers and ministers in the vineyard.We do not want them to commit this sin of murder, but we are not drawing them close for protection and support. It is fear and shame that leads to abortion. We need to go out of our daily routine to observe these youths:most importantly,we should provide shoulders to lean on, make them have confidence in us; then minister salvation to them. The key word is LOVE.

  • http://www.heroicmedia.org Marissa Cope

    We’re using mass media to help black women who are considering abortion.

    This summer, Heroic Media launched a campaign featuring the life-saving television commercial “Ultimatum” to air nationwide over 60 times during May and June. The ad, airing on the Black Entertainment Television (BET) network, is a “Call for Help” message which aims to inform women facing unexpected pregnancies about hopeful alternatives to abortion. The message includes a toll-free phone number which connects callers with local, life-affirming pregnancy centers.

    The result – “Over 2,400 Responses Nationwide to Heroic Media Pro-Life ‘Call for Help’ Campaign on Black Entertainment Television” http://heroicmedia.org/document.doc?id=25

  • stephhance001

    A pregnancy can be intentionally aborted in several ways. The manner selected often depends upon the gestational age of the embryo or fetus, which increases in size as the pregnancy progresses.The health risks of abortion depend on whether the procedure is performed safely or unsafely.-James Stuckey

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  • Bud

    I see no mention of the “C-word”: contraception. Too many Christians are convinced that access to contraception will increase sexual activity. The sexual activity is happening. Access to and education about contraception can have a significant effect on pregnancy and abortion rates. For one example of a study, see http://blog.chron.com/pattihart/2012/02/study-shows-contraceptives-reducing-teen-pregnancyabortion-rates/

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  • http://www.facebook.com/reformedafricanamericans Jemar

    This article takes me back to the first article that I read from you–“Dear Pastor: From a black female congregant.” In that first article I remember a sense of plunging into your story and momentarily releasing my self-absorption to enter into the experience of another. I got that same sense in this last article, “Abortion and the Black Woman.” You masterfully chose sections of your conversation with “Tamara” to expose who she was, who she is now, and her reflections about the journey. I could feel the “cold, cold, cold room” with her and grieve at the loss of her aborted children as if I was there. At the same time you take us to the Gospel before turns into bitterness and despondency. Rev. Nelson’s insights about solutions and Care Net remind us that redemption is possible on a horizontal level. There are actions that we as Christians can take to literally save lives. Most importantly, your article reminds us that redemption is possible on a vertical level as well. No sin is too heinous, too dark for the blood of Christ to cover. Thank you for this experience, thank you for this journey.

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